Tips for Teen Drivers
Do you remember the day you got your driver’s license? It was so exciting! Did feelings of freedom and the potential of the open road flood your young mind? If so, you’re not alone. Odds are, as your kids reach driving age, they’re right where with you.
Times have likely changed since you were a teen driver. Cell phones are nearly everywhere today, making distracted driving a problem now more than ever. In addition to smart phone safety while driving, there’s a lot to learn about keeping your new driver safe on the road today. So, as your teen gears up for their own license and newfound freedom, help them get in the know and stay focused behind the wheel with these tips.
Good Driving Skills Start Before Teen Drivers Take the Wheel
Because parents are among the biggest influencers in their kids’ lives, it’s fair to say that teens are watching you drive. So, if you drive the way you want your kids to, you’ll find that modeling safe driving habits will pay off. Your teen will begin to understand these concepts before they get behind the wheel, and may repeat your process when they’re on their own. Here are some key practices your teen should know as they get ready to ride solo.
Always learning. Mention to your kids that there’s a learning curve to becoming a good driver. Let the smaller mistakes become a chance to teach them. Continue to coach your teen to drive safely each time you’re in the car.
Get ready to drive. First thing to do when getting in the car? Put on your seat belt — and ask your passengers to buckle up, too. Check your mirrors and clean them if they’re dirty or covered with snow before taking off.
Keep your car healthy. If a dash light goes on, pull over and call a parent immediately. Some lights come on because the danger is imminent — others only need attention soon. If you don’t know which it is, just ask!
Turn on the tech. Some newer cars are starting to come equipped with a teen driver mode, which is a built in system that coaches new drivers. It lets parents set speed alerts, volume limits on media, and some even have a “report card mode” which holds onto details for parents to review later. If you’re shopping for a new car for the kiddos, these can really help you to know how your kids are driving while they're alone. Another way to reinforce good driving habits is to enroll in our teen safe driver program which can even offer you a discount on your insurance rates!
Keep gas in the tank. It’s a good idea to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full. If you don’t dip below that, you won’t be at risk of running out of gas. Kids will have a lot on their minds when they’re first starting to drive.
On the Road Teen Driving Tips
Once that learner’s permit is in hand, your teen will likely be eager to put in some miles on the road. Here are a few tips that’ll help them stay safe while they’re breaking in the driver’s seat.
Blind spot beware. Teach them to stay out of other driver’s blind spots, especially semi-trucks, and that it’s best to assume someone is in their blind spot when changing lanes or turning. That way, they get into the habit of turning and looking to check, instead of relying only on a mirror or a sensor.
Look before backing. It only takes a couple seconds to walk behind the car to check for objects or kids before backing out of a driveway or parking spot — have them build it into their routine!
Stay street smart. When parking on the street, remind them to check for traffic and bikes before opening their driver-side door. Make sure they know how to rely on their mirrors before making a move. All it takes is a moment to be sure it’s safe.
Signal steady. They should always use their signal when changing lanes. If they don’t and something happens, they could be at fault. Another important part of that is to let the signal run for a few moments before turning. That way, everyone around knows to expect a turn or lane change.
Know your states laws. New teen driving laws are coming on the books all the time. Educate yourself about your state’s laws so you and your kid’s aren’t taken by surprise. Certain states have really increased the penalties for distracted driving — some even consider eating as distracted driving!
Know the limits. Driving near or below the speed limit is a great way to guide young drivers. Going too fast or even too slow can increase the risk of accidents.
Slow down safely. Teach them to slow down well before they need to stop. Braking quickly at stop signs or lights is hard on the car and can seem unpredictable to other drivers and pedestrians.
Know the NHTSA’s “5 to Drive.” Because parents set the rules before kids hit the road, take time and be sure your kids know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s teen driver rules:
- No cell phones while driving
- No extra passengers
- No speeding
- No alcohol
- No driving or riding without a seat belt
Learning to drive is an exciting time for your teen. But make sure they know that with this new freedom comes big responsibility. It’s a right of passage that deserves their full attention and respect. Your contribution to their future safety on the road can help them to develop great driving habits that can last a lifetime.
Driving safely is very important, and so is being properly insured. Want to learn more ways you can help your teen be safer behind the wheel? Check with your American Family Insurance agent to find how they can build you a car insurance policy that covers you best. You’re going to feel great knowing that your teenager’s driving safely, and that your family’s got the coverage they need.